Ben Whishaw has some glamorous shoes to fill. He has been named as the British actor playing fellow Brit Freddie Mercury in the still-untitled biopic about the Queen rock icon. The “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We are the Champions” singer is known for his unique voice in blending the genres of hard rock, pop, heavy metal, cabaret and opera. Although his death from AIDS in 1991 was a huge loss for he music industry, his great influence is still felt today.
Here’s what you should know about Whishaw and his challenging role.
1. He’s Married to Composer Mark Bradshaw
Whishaw met his future husband on the set of Bright Star, and the couple married in 2012. The British-born actor plays poet John Keats in the film, which is based on the romance of the poet and Fanny Brawne, played by Abbie Cornish.
2. He Is Replacing Sacha Baron Cohen
In July, it was revealed that Sacha Baron Cohen dropped out of the project due to creative differences. However, it has been reported that the members of Queen felt that Baron Cohen’s personality was not fitting to play their leader. In fact, Queen guitarist Brian May was quoted as saying, “In the end, we felt that his presence in the movie would be very distracting.”
According to Deadline, Baron Cohen envisioned the biopic as a tell-all worthy of an R rating, while the band members wanted it PG. Cinemablend reported that Johnny Depp was rumored to be considered for Mercury as early as 2006.
3. He Is Known for His Role in ‘Skyfall’
In the Bond film he played Q, the wizard of spy gadgetry. While promoting the film, Whishaw did not yet discuss his sexual preference. Audiences will also recognize Whishaw as Robert Frobisher in Cloud Atlas .
4. He Also Played Bob Dylan
This is not the first time Whishaw is playing a musical icon. He is one of the actors who played a version of Dylan in the movie I’m Not There.
5. Freddie Mercury is Considered the Most Prominent AIDS Death in the Entertainment World
In November of 1991, Mercury announced his illness and died the very next day. According to a New York Times report, Mercury told his fans around the world to join in the fight against the disease.
In 2002, Queen received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, joining The Beatles as one of the few non-U.S. bands with this distinction.
According to Rolling Stone, the film will have the audience rocking out to Queen classics like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You” and “Another One Bites the Dust.”